By Chris Willman
Updated March 16, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

In bluegrass, pianists are about as employable as turntable DJs. Bruce Hornsby helps rectify that deficit by marrying his jazz-pop ivories to ex — mainstream country star Ricky Skaggs’ string-band revivalism. Together, Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby prove bluegrass’ strictures were ripe for loosening up after all. They do gospel, Hornsby’s ”Mandolin Rain,” even ”Super Freak” (!) — but ”The Dreaded Spoon,” their hilarious tale of a passive-aggressive dessert hog, is the real keeper among the odd couple’s joyous novelties.

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